Target's recent launch of a program to sell gift cards redeemable for Facebook Credits or in the virtual world Poptropica towards either membership fees or the purchase of virtual currency further blurs the line (to the extent there still was one) between in-world currency and real-world currency. Facebook and Zynga agreed earlier this year that players of Zynga games (such as Farmville) can use Facebook Credits to buy virtual goods, but there is no reason why real-world retailers looking to attract Facebook users and create online buzz couldn't set up exclusive deals for Facebook Credits. Steve Richards has an interesting post at ecoconsultancy.com on just that topic - he even questions how long it will be before sites that enable you to buy, sell and trade virtual currencies become regulated exchanges.
As the line between virtual and real-world currencies disappears, there are a host of legal issues that virtual world operators will need to deal with. As we noted in this post, because of laws like the CARD Act and various state, local and even international laws and regulations related to the use of stored value cards and accounts, it is important to ensure that if you are offering virtual currency as part of your business model, you verify that you are in compliance with federal, state and international laws.